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The way the world works is always changing. Literally. Years ago we were envisioning working remotely, which is now very common. And now we are for example talking about how robots will replace a major part of our workforce.
The changing world also requires strong leadership and for startup founders this is an even bigger challenge. They have to deal with fast growing teams, securing knowledge, and making decisions that could make or break the company. So how do they manage?
The desired skill set
Leading a startup requires people that are able to move quickly when the business is changing. And the ability to be creative and lead the company into the right direction. This requires a certain skill set which would be a combination of natural talent, the team around the leader, and acquired skills – from work experience and professional education. And when it comes to education, an MBA degree seems to be the weapon of choice for many startup founders as it will develop business skills on a broad scale.
“I spent four years in investment banking but I knew that eventually I wanted to start my own company”, says Theo Lee, founder of KPOP Foods. “In order to do so, I needed exposure to other functions such as marketing and branding, operations, and general leadership skills. Business school was an ideal place for us to learn fast and to test ideas with the community.”
“Additionally”, he states, “learning to understanding the key business metrics to track is just as important in terms of leadership. While revenue is likely a metric that all startups should be highly focused on, there are key performance indicators that you can specifically focus on to understand if something is trending the right direction.”
Credibility & confidence
It is certainly not all about knowledge. Running a startup requires confidence. Confidence in your own abilities and in your knowledge about the market. Confidence about the strength of your product and your ability to tell your story to investors and other executives.
“I decided to pursue my MBA for the expertise and credibility it gave me in the boardroom”, Elizabeth Shores, founder of Dreamium, explains. “I knew that I could later on parlay those business skills into running my own company – which is exactly what I did.”
“More importantly”, she continues, “I knew that an MBA would teach me how to scale and grow a company – not just launch one.”
“Having an MBA has been immensely helpful in growing a start-up. An MBA taught me how to turn a good idea into a good business. Nothing is accidental and data drives every decision when it comes to startup launch and growth. My MBA program was also a safe, fertile ground to test out some of my most outrageous and creative ideas, so that I had the advantage of confidence and competence when I made the leap from a corporate job to founding a startup company.“
The type of founder
So what type of founder can benefit the most from a MBA program? As we are zooming into the Dutch ecosystem, we asked program manager Nina van den Hemel from TIAS School for Business & Society, which is dubbed the best business school in The Netherlands.
“The one thing that unites all MBA students is the drive to excel. To outperform. The type of start-up founder in the TIAS MBA program not just wants to execute a business idea, but wants to run and grow a successful company.”
“This type of person also enjoys being challenged”, Nina continues, “and thrives by getting new ideas from the diversity within a group.”
“We run a modular MBA program which enables founders to work around their busy schedule and still get a degree – something which would be very difficult with full-time programs. It enables founders to hone the skills needed as entrepreneur, like negotiation and presentation skills. The cohort of ambitious professionals allows to expand professional networks, and at the same is valuable sounding board that challenges business ideas.”
Have you done a MBA? Share your experience with our readers in the comments below.
This is a guest post by Roeland Pater from Scale Digital, a digital marketing professional with a passion for educational and health startups. Shutterstock image by Branislav Nenin.